Top 10 brain stretching activities for seniors
Just as our bodies need physical exercise to stay fit and healthy, our brains also need constant exercise to stay sharp and mentally strong. Researchers believe that following a brain-healthy lifestyle and performing regular, targeted brain exercises help our brains continue to learn new things. Mental exercise stimulates the brain and can help seniors sharpen their thinking, reasoning, memory and processing abilities. Experts recommend sticking to brain training that involves everyday activities.
“Almost any silly suggestion can work," says David Eagleman, a neuroscientist and assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston, Texas. "Drive home via a different route or brush your teeth with your opposite hand. The brain works through associations, so the more senses you involve the better."
Buttoning your shirt or tying your shoes with your eyes closed are effective ways to exercise your brain. You can also try eating a meal with a friend without talking, only utilizing visual cues and gestures to express yourself. Another great brain game resource is your daily newspaper.
"Simple games like Sudoku and word games are good, as well as comic strips where you find things that are different from one picture to the next," says Dr. John E. Morley, director of St. Louis University's Division of Geriatric Medicine and author of “The Science of Staying Young.”
Here are 10 great ways to keep your mind sharp:
Test your memory — Write down a list of words on a piece of paper, then memorize them. Wait an hour, then see how many items you can recall. Make items on the list as challenging as possible for the greatest mental stimulation.
Do math — Figure out math problems in your head without the aid of a pencil or calculator. Increase the challenge by walking at the same time.
Make dinner — Cooking uses many senses: smell, touch, sight and taste, as well as your sense of space and time, all of which involve different parts of the brain.
Learn a language — Learning a language stimulates different parts of the brain. What’s more, a rich vocabulary may help slow down cognitive decline. Many Holiday Retirement communities have language clubs — it’s never too late to learn French, Spanish or sign language!
Map your way — When you visit a different place, try to draw a map of it when you get home. Do this every time you go out.
Become a foodie — When eating a meal, try to identify each individual ingredient, including any herbs or spices. Write them down.
Discover a new hobby — Take up a hobby that uses your fine-motor skills, such as knitting, drawing, painting or building models.
Get creative — Using your imagination is a great brain exercise. Imagine how you might redecorate your house or landscape your yard. Coloring is a great creative and relaxing outlet too!
Chat with a friend — One of the most important cognitive activities for seniors is engaging in meaningful conversation.
Stay active — Games and puzzles are excellent cognitive activities for seniors. These types of activities engage the brain, keeping it stimulated and engaged.
Brain exercises are both enjoyable and productive, and the health benefits are worth the effort. At Holiday Retirement, we offer an engaging activity calendar packed with fun and educational brain-healthy events, such as crafts, music and sign language classes. Schedule your visit today!